Cannabis in America

The State of Weed: Marijuana Legalization State by State

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**Last Updated February 3, 2017 **

In recent decades, marijuana legalization has continuously evolved in the United States, as opposition against the drug continues to wane amidst new research on the drug's effects and criticism of the U.S.'s handling of the "War on Drugs." Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 25 total states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

In November, a total of nine states voted on marijuana legalization. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Arizona voters shot down their legal pot ballot measure. In addition, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota voted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, while Montana voters chose to expand the parameters of their existing medical marijuana program.

The map below displays each state's current marijuana legalization status, from illegal to full legalized recreational use, as of February 3, 2017.

The State of Weed Map

According to Gallup polls, one in eight U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana and 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal in the U.S. As cannabis initiatives continue to find traction and make their way onto ballots, understanding the intricacies of each state's marijuana laws will become increasingly important.

Patients who use medical marijuana will need to know things like whether or not they can travel with the drug and use it in other states, and in cities where the drug is decriminalized mere fractions of an ounce could make the difference between low fines or substantial jail time. The following slide show contains information on each states' marijuana laws in regards to possessing, selling, and cultivating weed, although please note that this is intended as a basic resource and does not include the entirety of provisions in any given state. This is the "State of Weed."

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Image Courtesy of [Håkan Dahlström via Flickr]

Image Courtesy of [Håkan Dahlström via Flickr]

On November 8, 2016,  California voted in favor of Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Marijuana sales and subsequent taxation will not go into effect until January 1, 2018. This slide reflects California’s current marijuana laws. It will be updated to reflect those changes as more information becomes available.

Marijuana Legalization Status: Recreational

Possession: Marijuana is decriminalized in the state of California; therefore, these offenses are treated like minor traffic violations. Possession of 28.5 grams or less carries up to 10 days in jail and possible fines ranging between $100-$500 in part depending on the age of the offender.

Sale: The sale of any amount of illegal marijuana in California is an automatic felony and carries up to two to four years in prison.

Cultivation: Cultivating any of amount of weed is a felony that carries up to 16 months to three years in prison.

Qualifying Medical Conditions Include: anorexia, arthritis, cachexia (wasting syndrome), cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea, any other chronic or persistent medical symptom outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or any condition that “if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health.”

Research and analysis conducted by Law Street’s Cannabis in America Team: Alexis Evans, Alec Siegel, Anneliese Mahoney, and Kevin Rizzo.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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